What is a Thermal Cooker?
Thermal cooking is quite different from using pressure cookers or electric slow cookers.
Our Thermal Cooker, a Thermos Shuttle Chef, is the one piece of cooking equipment that is an absolute winner with our family – At home, in our caravan, on road trips or even a day trip, out camping and at events. It can even be used to transport cold items safely.
This post may include affiliate links to products we love and use, please read our disclaimer.
We use our thermal cooker constantly
Think of a thermal cooker as a giant stainless steel vacuum flask, such as the famous Thermos brand. Food is cooked in the inner pot for around 15-20 minutes at home on a stove top (gas or electric), on a camp stove or (some brands) even over a fire. It is then transferred to the insulated outer pot, closed up and left to cook for up to 8 hours without any further attention being required.
Spaghetti Bolognese and chilli con carne are two of the things that we love to get cooking when we are about to go on the road or even as a quick meal to prepare when coming home after work.
Getting it started cooking in the morning then leave it to soak up the delicious juices and cook all by itself during the day, ready and delicious for the evening – fantastic.
No electricity needed… prepare the food and leave it be.
It is impossible to burn food in a thermal cooker and meals do not dry out when left for hours.
Economical and uses less energy – once the initial cooking time is done, no more heat source is required.
So simple to use and so many different meals can be made in a thermal cooker.
As useful at home as it is on the road or camping.
Safe to leave unattended while food continues to cook inside and be ready when you are.
Why do we use a Thermal Cooker?
- Cost-effective, safe to leave unattended once the initial cooking process is complete.
- No boiling-over or burning of food in the cooking pot.
- Keeps food at high temperatures for hours so it is safe to eat.
- Camping and caravanning trips – meals are ready when we need them and so easy to prepare. We often free camp, so the cooker is excellent for these times too.
- Overnight trips away as well as constant home use.
- Fantastic to have a hot soup or meal made when at the kids sporting events in winter.
- Ours is the Thermos shuttle chef – A quality product that will last our family for many years.
- Along with our Kelly Kettle, the Thermal Cooker is always packed when travelling.
Electric Slow Cooker or Thermal Cooker?
Electric slow cookers are fabulous when at home or near a power source, read more about some of the best slow cookers on the market.
Thermal Cookers, (sometimes referred to as Thermo Cookers) however, don’t depend on an electricity source as food can be cooked for the initial period over a gas flame, making them ideal for use when travelling or camping.
Benefits of Thermal Cooking
- Less fuel used to cook a meal.
- Time-saving – prepare meals early in the day and then forget until ready to finish any preparations.
- Can also be used as a cooler – add ice to one pot and keep butter, meat, drinks etc. cold.
- Make soups, stews, pot roasts, rice meals, sauces, desserts and even mulled wine!
Compare the features of different brands and models to decide which one suits you best. Thermal cookers with two pots are ideal as a main meal can be prepared in the larger pot and a dessert or another part of the meal prepared in the smaller pot. Some thermal cookers come with just one inner pot, which may be preferable for some people.
Thermal Mass & Heat Retention
Heat retention in a thermal cooker is dependent on thermal mass. Meaning that the more food that is being prepared the longer the heat is retained. Smaller meals will cool faster.
Thermal cookers need to be 75-80% filled to work efficiently. This can pose a problem if only cooking for one or two people, so the size of the thermal cooker needs to be considered. Making meals that can be eaten immediately and the rest then be frozen in portions for another time is a smart way to cook. The best quality cookers are said to only lose around 3-4 degrees per hour.
As Thermal Cookers use the retained heat of the food to continue cooking once placed in the insulated outer pot, it is important to make sure the food is covered in liquid or a sauce so that the heat is equally distributed throughout the cooking process.
Which Thermal Cooker is Best?
Your budget will, of course, play a major part in selecting a slow cooker to suit your needs. Cookers range from a little under $100 up to nearly $500. A less expensive thermal cooker will do the job as many Australian families travelling long-term on road trips have told us when we asked for their views and experiences using the thermal cooking method.
All the top level cookers with heavy stainless steel based pots are going to perform the best and should last many years. Less expensive models will perform well although they tend to have thinner bases which means it is easier to burn food during the initial cooking on a heat source. Once in the outer pot, the food will not burn.
- Consider how many people will the meals be prepared for when deciding on the size needed?
- What is your budget?
- Two inner pots or one?
- Will it be used a lot at home and away?
- Or will it be just used for occasional trips?
A number of different brands are on the market –
- Billy Boil
- Eco Pot
- and the list continues…
Thermal Cooker Review
These are some of the best slow cookers for home, on the road, when camping and in a caravan. They are also excellent to use to make a hot batch of soup to take to sporting events with kids or even to keep a cold meal perfect.
Shuttle Chef Thermal Cooker by Thermos
The Thermos Shuttle Chef is the first thing we pack when camping or going away in our caravan. At home, it is used regularly too and has now been in use for over 4 years. It is a top quality item that will last for many years to come.
The Shuttle Chef has stainless steel pots with a double wall for extra heat retention and thick stainless steel bases which help to prevent food burning or sticking during the initial cooking period. It comes in a few sizes depending on the needs of the user.
Used with care and treated properly, this cooker will definitely last for many years, maybe even generations.
Eco Thermo Pot
The Eco Pot is one of Australia’s best selling thermal cookers –
With so many thermal cookers appearing on the market today, selecting the right one can be confusing. And unlike Ecopot, a lot of them haven’t been around for long. Ecopot on the other hand has been developing, and re-engineering the market leader in thermal cookware for years.
Find the Best Price for an Eco Pot Thermal Cooker on eBay
Dream Pot Thermal Cooker
The Dream Pot is extremely popular in Australia and comes in a variety of size options. We have friends who have used theirs on road trips and regularly at home too. It was also well reviewed by families travelling around Australia when we asked for opinions.
This is another top quality cooker that will also last many years.
Aldi Thermal Cooker
Of the cheaper brands, the Aldi Thermal Cooker has been very popular. We asked a Facebook group of families on the road, traveling Australia what they use and the Aldi cooker was raved about. It costs less than $100.
Aldi Thermal Cooker Instructions
Using an Aldi cooker is the same as using other thermal cookers, the same recipes can be used and the results will be brilliant.
Whichever thermal cooker model you choose, it is sure to become a favourite way to prepare meals. There is no ‘best’ thermal cooker as the choices vary so much.